Dialysis is a treatment to help with kidney failure, but being on the treatment can be a big commitment for a person. The Munson Dialysis Center in Traverse City is helping patients find the best options for their care.
Marc Blazer is a patient at the center, and he's always been an active guy. He loves to get outside on his bike especially after years of health problems left him stuck inside.
Marc was born with only one kidney, and as doctors predicted it started failing when he was only 8 or 9 years old. His mother provided him with a transplant kidney but it only lasted about 25 years before Marc began having problems again.
The kidneys are supposed to clean the blood and filter toxins out of the body. Without proper kidney function, Marc needed a treatment called dialysis to do what his kidney no longer could.
"Dialysis is a life-sustaining treatment for people who have kidney failure. You need to have kidney function to stay alive and to live a healthy life," Laura Webb, Kidney Dialysis Nurse, said.
Treatment consists of sitting in a reclining chair and being hooked up to a machine that filters your blood. It can last 3-4 hours and patients do this around 3 days a week.
Around 200 people are getting treatment through the center, and Munson offers a support system for every step of the process. There is also a home program where people can do dialysis from home, like Marc did.
"When I first started I was on for 8 hours and then right until my transplant I was on for 12 hours a night," Blazer said.
Not everyone is a candidate for a transplant, so they must stay on dialysis for life. However, a new kidney is not a full cure.
"The work really doesn't end with a transplant, I still have to take medicine for the rest of my life," Blazer said.
Experts say the treatment is vital for life but a patient still has a lot of control over their health.
"Come to your dialysis treatments, be a proactive patient...be informed, the more you know the more you can control it and it improves your quality of life," Webb said.
"It's absolutely a new lease on life and it makes me appreciate what I went through and even more makes me appreciate what I've got now," Blazer said.
Munson Medical Center offers dialysis centers in Traverse City, Kalkaska and Frankfort. For more information on these programs you can visit their website.